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Winter Manuela

Analysis by MackerelPye
Winter Manuela - Silver Caroler

4-5

Obtainable as a 4 - 5 only

Hero Stats

Max Avg Total Stats at Lvl 40
190
HP 42
ATK 37
SPD 42
DEF 38
RES 31

Stat Variations

Level 1 Stat Variation
5★
4★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 17 8 11 9 8
Middle 18 9 12 10 9
High 19 10 13 11 10

Level 40 Stat Variations
5★
4★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 39 34 39 35 27
Middle 42 37 42 38 31
High 45 40 46 41 34

IV Sets

Key stats worth increasing through nature if possible.
Complementary stats that matter, but not to the point of picking them over key stats for nature increase.
Relatively worthless stat that can safely be decreased through nature.
HPATKSPDDEFRES

Skill Sets

[Drunkenly Knocks Over Your Christmas Tree In Spanish] (Speedy Save)

Build by MackerelPye
Recommended
Winter Rapier+ (+Spd) A Atk/Spd Unity
Alternate: Atk/Spd Form 3
Positional Assist B Savvy Fighter 3
Alternate: Special Fighter 3
Noontime
Alternate: Ignis
C A/D Near Save 3
Alternate: D/R Near Save 3
IVs

+SPD / -HP or -RES 

SAtk/Spd Bond 3
Alternate: Darting Breath

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Winter Rapier+ (+SPD)

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Noontime / Ignis / Moonbow 

Passive A: Atk/Spd Unity / Atk/Spd Form / Atk/Spd Ideal (DO NOT use Solo or Bond 4)

Passive B: Savvy Fighter / Special Fighter / Crafty Fighter

Passive C: A/D Near Save / A/R Near Save / D/R Near Save

Sacred Seal: Atk/Spd Bond / Darting Breath / Kestrel Stance

  • Manuela's base kit and stats veer her into the role of a speedy tank unit that can avoid natural follow-up hits while making her own. With a few more investments, she can do this exceedingly well.
  • By default, Manuela comes gifted with an inheritable sword that many other sword units would actually kill to have: Winter Rapier. Specifically, it grants a built-in Atk/Def Unity effect; in addition to increasing Manuela's Atk/Def by +5, it also grants some penalty protection by effectively reversing any Attack or Defense penalty she receives, making her even stronger in the face of Shrines, Menace skills, and the like.
    • It should be especially noted that Winter Rapier stacks well with other Unity-type skills, effectively doubling the power Manuela gets from being debuffed. For this build, Atk/Spd Unity will especially be preferred to further increase Manuela's raw strength while also improving her Speed and matchups. 
    • Lacking the above, most high-quality enemy phase Atk/Spd A Passive will generally do well. Manuela's default Atk/Spd Form for example grants a pretty high return of +7 each if you put her near three allies — which, generally speaking, is almost given in any armor-centric formation (especially with Save skills in play). Avoid Atk/Spd Bond 4 or Solo skills as these counteract with the penalty reversal effects of Winter Rapier and the forced adjacency of Near Save, respectively.
  • Retaliating with a short-charged Special is a main functional point of this build. In this case, we'll be looking at some even-numbered Specials: 
    • Noontime for sustainability
    • Moonbow or small but solid burst damage per retaliation 
    • Ignis if you don't mind waiting a turn for that powerful burst damage to come through
  • From those Specials, it mostly comes down to which acceleration option you prefer.
    • Darting Breath being in the Sacred Seal means you'll have to swap out Special Fighter as its acceleration effect becomes redundant with Breath's. Our best option B slot thus narrows down to a single skill: Savvy Fighter. Savvy Fighter leverages the heavy Speed investment by reducing damage on the first enemy hit by 30%, helping out Manuela's overall tankiness. It also neutralizes follow-up manipulation effects, something that would otherwise be troubling for Manuela's survivability and offensive performance.
    • Special Fighter is already a good option that comes by default on Manuela and can be accompanied by any high-quality Atk/Spd Seal such as Atk/Spd Bond or Kestrel Stance.
  • Finally, the build is secondarily defined by having a Near Save skill active, allowing Manuela to sub in for nearby allies for incoming melee combat. It generally matters not which type of Near Save you inherit as the only difference is which two stats they improve by +4. The important part is saving your melee-deficient units from being unceremoniously killed by other one-space attackers. 

wait a minuteeeeee *hic* this isn't a demote staff and actually where am i (Tanky Save)

Build by MackerelPye
Recommended
Winter Rapier+ (+Def)
Alternate: Winter Rapier+ (+Atk)
A Atk/Def Unity
Alternate: Sturdy Stance (2 or 3)
Positional Assist B Crafty Fighter 3
Alternate: Special Spiral 3
Glimmer
Alternate: Ignis
C A/D Near Save 3
Alternate: D/R Near Save 3
IVs

+ATK / -HP or -RES

SSteady Breath
Alternate: Atk/Def Form 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Assets/Flaws: +ATK / -HP or -RES

Weapon: Winter Rapier+ (+Def/+Atk) 

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Glimmer / Ignis

Passive A: Atk/Def Unity / Sturdy Stance / Close Def / Steady Posture

Passive B: Crafty Fighter / Special Spiral / Special Fighter

Passive C: A/D Near Save / A/R Near Save / D/R Near Save

Sacred Seal: Steady Breath / Atk/Def Form / Atk/Def Bond / Spd/Def Bond 

  • Manuela can also go the conventional Near Saver route by investing all-in into Attack and Defense, making her a fantastic melee combat absorber and more robust against tougher physical melee enemies. The build also prioritizes damage over longevity to close KOes against such targets as quickly as possible. 
  • Again, you can never go wrong with keeping Winter Rapier. After all, it ties completely with Near Save conditions and rewards Manuela with more Atk/Def (precisely the aim of this build) and penalty reversion.
  • Due to a focus on damage dealing rather than sustain, we look at Glimmer or Ignis as Special choices. The Special choice also determines the usage of other skills.
    • Glimmer scales well with the high damage ceiling this build aims to achieve and is simple enough to charge on retaliation with the inclusion of any form of Special acceleration listed here.
    • Ignis requires Special Spiral and the Steady Breath seal (or some other outsourced Breath effect) to charge after a single enemy attack — provided Manuela successfully charges it and triggers Spiral the first time. The reward is generous, however, as Ignis's high burst damage after high Defense stacking will sweep the floor with nearly any melee enemy brave enough to initiate.
  • Assuming you're using Glimmer and a Breath skill, Crafty Fighter is pretty much the best B slot you can run here as it doesn't have negative synergy or redundancy with other skills used here. The additional follow-up also helps Manuela deal a second hit to anything that somehow survives her first. 
  • The rest of the Passive slots are dedicated to building up Manuela's physical tankiness. 
    • Atk/Def Unity is typically best above other choices as it stacks doubly with the Unity effect of Winter Rapier, meaning any Atk/Def penalties that Manuela absorbs will also be accordingly reversed in double retaliation. 
    • Sturdy Stance 3 and Steady Posture 3 are pretty good choices, as long as you don't run them redundantly with the guard effects present in Special or Crafty Fighter. 
    • Close Def further specializes Manuela in melee tanking and cancels enemy buffs. It even accounts for dragonstone threats that would otherwise bust past all the Defense stacking in the build. 
    • If not using Steady Breath to quicken Manuela's Specials, Atk/Def or Spd/Def Form or Bond are great stat buffing skills that work in tandem with Near Save's nearness requirements. 

Bringer of Joy, Solo Acts, and Booze (Distant Fighter)

Build by MackerelPye
Winter Rapier+ (+Spd) A Distant Counter
Alternate: Distant Stance
Positional Assist B Special Fighter 3
Alternate: Crafty Fighter 3
Noontime
Alternate: Moonbow
C Atk Smoke 3
Alternate: A/R Far Save 3
IVs

+SPD

SAtk/Spd Solo 3
Alternate: Steady Breath

Show Explanation/Analysis

Assets/Flaws: +SPD / -HP or -RES

Weapon: Winter Rapier+ (+SPD)

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Noontime / Moonbow 

Passive A: Distant Counter / Distant Stance

Passive B: Special Fighter / Crafty Fighter

Passive C: Atk Smoke / A/R Far Save / D/R Far Save

Sacred Seal: Atk/Spd Solo / Spd/Res Form / Atk/Def Form / Darting Breath / Steady Breath

  • Only recommended for the fun, highly-invested Manuela fans. A Distant Counter-type skill takes away a potential stat boost in the A slot and requires her to compensate with additional stats from merges, Dragonflowers, and additional support venues. When all that's said and done though, Manuela achieves a nice degree of independence in allowing herself to counterattack ranged enemies by her lonesome.
  • Otherwise, the build is pretty much using the same elements from other builds. 
    • Hard investment in Speed through a Speed asset and Speed refined weapon is ideal to naturally prevent follow-ups on Manuela while helping her advance with some doubles herself. 
    • Winter Rapier is still the best sword accessible for a tanking build especially as default, allowing Manuela to turn any possible penalties on herself against her enemy.
    • You'll still ideally want a 2 CD Special for instant firing on any enemy attack, accelerated with a skill that offers charge +1, such as Manuela's default Special Fighter or the equally-easily available Darting or Steady Breath in her Sacred Seal.
  • As for the Sacred Seal:
    • If not used in Save team formations — in which case Manuela should consider running A/R or D/R Far Save to take advantage of her newfound distant countering abilities — Atk/Spd Solo is a perfectly good way to stack up additional stats for an easy condition. 
    • Otherwise, you may use Breath skills as previously discussed as a Special acceleration option in the Seal
    • A Form/Bond of your choice is solid and, like Soloes, depends on desired boosted stats and if you're confident Manuela can abide their ally nearness conditions. In particular, consider favoring Resistance-based skills as Manuela's distant countering allows her to go toe-to-toe with mages. 

Mall Santa, Meet Jack Daniels (Aggro Build)

Build by MackerelPye
Winter Rapier+ (+Spd)
Alternate: Brave Sword+
A Swift Sparrow (2 or 3)
Alternate: Atk/Spd Form 3
Positional Assist B Special Fighter 3
Alternate: Bold Fighter 3
Moonbow
Alternate: Ignis
C Armor March 3
Alternate: Armored Stride 3
IVs

+ATK or +SPD / -HP or -RES

SBlade Session 3
Alternate: Atk/Spd Solo 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Winter Rapier+ (+SPD) / Brave Sword+ / Ninja Katana+

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Moonbow / Ignis

Passive A: Surge Sparrow / Atk/Spd Form /  Atk/Spd Unity / Atk/Spd Push / Swift Sparrow / Atk/Spd Solo / Death Blow

Passive B: Special Fighter / Bold Fighter

Passive C: Armor March / Armored Stride

Sacred Seal: Blade Session / Atk/Spd Solo / Death Blow / Swift Sparrow

  • A more fun-oriented build than the other listed options, Manuela can go grab that Jack Daniels she's been hiding from Seteth and bop some real heads with it by going with an initiation-style build.
  • To build her offensive power and accompany the change in playstyle, Manuela should run Atk/Spd boosting A and Sacred Seal skills. Those are fairly simple enough depending on what you have on hand. For example, the simple and accessible Death Blow or Swift Sparrow is more than fine, and her default Atk/Spd Form has decent to fantastic returns if you abide positioning requirements. The cream of the crop is Surge Sparrow, which, while expensive, helps Manuela maintain a good level of HP in the match, especially for Special Fighter. Equally viable is Atk/Spd Unity, which works both phases and stacks with the unity effect present in Winter Rapier. 
  • Going on the offensive also considers mainly two Fighter skills: 
    • Her default Special Fighter works well enough across any build and weapons she runs, quickening the firing rate of Moonbow in either phase while enabling Ignis to trigger after taking an enemy counterattack in the same battle (assuming she doubles). 
    • Bold Fighter is also a great option as it guarantees a follow-up attack with no commitments to natural Speed comparisons — it even allows Manuela to get past most Wary-style enemies with her high Speed. 
  • Due to the differing conditions and attacking behaviors of Winter Rapier, Brave Sword, and Ninja Katana, you need to consider which suits your needs more. 
    • Winter Rapier is a generally great and ultimately stable choice if you'd like to keep a semblance of dual phase attacking, and the fact that it generally protects an offensively-oriented build from Atk debuffs isn't too shabby. 
    • The Brave-type weapons place Manuela completely into Player Phase in exchange for increased Special charge and damage, especially with the mentioned Fighter skills, through double strikes. 
  • To top of the build, Manuela prefers a C slot that helps improve her otherwise terrible initiation movement. This usually can be solved with Assists or Guidance/Orders support from other allies, but it's best to have a Mov+1 available through Armor March or Armored Stride at any time. You could also run Armored Boots in the Sacred Seal this way, but an Atk/Spd-boosting skill is more preferred there. 

Strengths

Demote Armor + Associated Strengths

New low-rarity armors are still somewhat of a rarity this day and age, and our questionably-dressed Professor is happy to both avoid the "demoted healer" pitfall and take center-stage with all sorts of armored class goodies:

  • Manuela's chances of being summoned, as well as acquiring additional copies of her, are considerably higher than that of five-star locked units on her banner. If you need a quick and competitive project, Manuela is a perfectly great candidate so long as you have the Orbs.
  • Melee armors introduced in Book VI are usually gifted with an exceptional base stat total of around 190. Manuela is no exception to this and takes advantage of this with a flexible distribution budget.
  • As an armor, Manuela gains access to a number of armor-exclusive goodies, including the Fighter and especially the metagame-defining Savior skill lines.

A Season's Giving of Stats

With so many stat points to work with, Manuela outfits herself with a weirdly provocative outfit and strong overall investment in her Attack and Speed stats. Properly built, she avoids many natural follow-up attacks while being able to make her own without the help of certain Fighter skills (those are still pretty helpful, though!). Her defenses are also pretty solid, and in conjunction with her Speed, a refined weapon, and said skill investment, makes sure Manuela typically performs flexibly in any phase and isn't easy to take down in a snap. 

Versatile Utility

The combination of Manuela's low orb cost per copy and obscenely high base stat total (which puts her in the near-maximum 190 scoring bin) also makes her a prime picking as a scorebot in modes that utilize Arena scoring. You can pretty much take most of the builds listed and tack on a high-scoring Rally and Special to seal the deal. 

In other modes and general gameplay, she will usually do pretty well with her high stats as well as proper usage and skill investment. 

Weaknesses

Armored Weaknesses

Manuela's low movement due to her being armored is usually not a noticeable thing nowadays; helpful factors include Save skills encouraging nearness to teammates, as well as many ally-provided means of moving across the map, like Ash's Opening Retainer skill. It's still a notable weakness if you don't invest particularly highly in Manuela's team composition or need her to escape from unfavorable matchups. 

As usual of her color and armor typing, physically tough blue units, armor-effective weaponry, or both will be certain to cut Manuela's performing act short.

Sometimes Lacking Raw Bulk

Investing in Speed takes a sizable bite from Manuela's other stats compared to the conventional Save armor; 42 HP / 38 Def / 31 Res are solid to start out with but aren't quite up to the standards of normal tanky armors. On a typical day, Manuela will mostly rely on hard investment, technique, and natural Speed avoidance rather than brute force tanking, the latter of which is usually preferable on your average Save unit. 

Competition

As far as the Sword Armor niche goes, Manuela faces some tough competition with a few older gents in her court. In particular, Arden, the Black Knight, and Zelgius typically make for pretty comparable and desirable tanky sword armors due to their non-seasonal accessibility and more convenient Special spamming options. In detail, Arden has way superior physical bulk and dual-phase Brave effect, while Zelgius and Black Knight can get a more potent Special in Black Luna running in less actions thanks to their refined Alondite.   

christmas cake jokes

"Silver Caroler."

Really now?

Weapon Skills

Weapons SP Rng. Mt.
Iron Sword
Learns by default at 1 ★
Unlocks at 1 ★
Only Inheritable by Sword Units.
50 1 6
Steel Sword
Learns by default at 2 ★
Unlocks at 2 ★
Only Inheritable by Sword Units.
100 1 8
Winter RapierIf unit is within 2 spaces of an ally, grants Atk/Def+5 and bonus to Atk/Def during combat = current penalty on each of those stats × 2. (Example: if unit has -7 penalty to Atk, grants Atk+19, for a net bonus of Atk+12.) Calculates each stat bonus independently.
Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Only Inheritable by Sword Units.
200 1 10
Winter Rapier+If unit is within 2 spaces of an ally, grants Atk/Def+5 and bonus to Atk/Def during combat = current penalty on each of those stats × 2. (Example: if unit has -7 penalty to Atk, grants Atk+19, for a net bonus of Atk+12.) Calculates each stat bonus independently.
Learns by default at 5 ★
Unlocks at 5 ★
Only Inheritable by Sword Units.
300 1 14
Available Rearmed Weapons
Arcane Éljúðnir
Weapon Evolution
Weapon Upgrades
Weapon Upgrades

Special Skills

Special Skills SP Turns
Glowing EmberBoosts damage dealt by 50% of unit's Def.
Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
100 4
IgnisBoosts damage dealt by 80% of unit's Def.
Unlocks at 4 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
200 4

Passive Skills

Passive Skills SP Slot
Atk/Spd Form 1Atk/Spd+X to unit during combat. (X = number of allies within 2 spaces; max 3.)
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 1 ★
60
A
Atk/Spd Form 2Grants Atk/Spd+X to unit during combat. (X = number of allies within 2 spaces + 2; max 5.)
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 2 ★
120
A
Atk/Spd Form 3Grants Atk/Spd+X to unit during combat. (X = 2 x number of allies within 2 spaces, + 1; max 7.)
Unlocks at 4 ★
240
A
Special Fighter 1At start of combat, if unit's HP ≥ 90%, grants Special cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts Special cooldown charge -1 on foe per attack. (Only highest value applied. Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
Unlocks at 3 ★
60
B
Special Fighter 2At start of combat, if unit's HP ≥ 70%, grants Special cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts Special cooldown charge -1 on foe per attack. (Only highest value applied. Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
Unlocks at 4 ★
120
B
Special Fighter 3At start of combat, if unit's HP ≥ 50%, grants Special cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts Special cooldown charge -1 on foe per attack. (Only highest value applied. Does not stack.)
Only inheritable by armor units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
240
B

Other Info

Origin
Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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